Remembering - Gerald Christensen, M.D.
Posted: Thu, Jan 31, 2019
A longtime UNMC faculty member in the Department of Ophthalmology, Gerald Christensen, M.D., died at his home in Omaha Saturday after a four-year battle with bladder cancer. He was 83.
Dr. Christensen began his association with UNMC in 1976 and completely retired this past July. He was director of the Eye Pathology Laboratory throughout his UNMC career and held the academic title of associate professor for many years. Since 2005, he had served as director of eye pathology and adjunct professor.
His interests were in teaching ocular pathology to students and residents, with a special emphasis on the relationship between pathological changes and the clinical presentation of disease processes. He read ophthalmic surgical tissue specimens and provided microscopic diagnoses back to ophthalmologists.
"Dr. Christensen was a model clinical pathologist and educator," said James Gigantelli, M.D., acting chair of the UNMC Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and director of the Stanley E. Truhlsen Eye Institute. "His professional career was dedicated to service -- service to his patients, his colleagues, his nation, and those he was entrusted to teach."
In 2008, Dr. Christensen was one of the lead donors on the Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation on the UNMC campus at 38th Avenue and Jones Street. The center provides low-vision services to the region, with a goal of assisting people with low vision problems such as macular degeneration to gain -- or regain -- their independence and quality of life.
In 2000, he married Mary Haven, who served as associate dean of the School of Allied Health Professions for the final 12 years of her 38-year career at UNMC. It is now the College of Allied Health Professions.
"It was a good match," Haven said. "He was a devoted father and husband. We had wonderful times together. He was always very supportive of all his families' endeavors."
The couple traveled extensively throughout their marriage, going to every continent except Antarctica.
Haven was always impressed by Dr. Christensen's long list of friends. "Every friend he ever had, he kept his whole life," she said. "He had friends going back to kindergarten."
Dr. Christensen served as an ophthalmologist in the U.S. Navy for 35 years, reaching the rank of captain. His tours of duty took him around the world including the Persian Gulf, Yokosuka, Japan, the Naval Hospital in San Diego, and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
He was on the faculty at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston from 1969-1975. He also was a clinical associate professor for Creighton University School of Medicine from 1977-1990 and for the VA Medical Center in Omaha from 1976-1990.
Memorials in honor of Jerry may be directed to:
- University of Nebraska Foundation to the Dr. Gerald R. Christensen Weigel Williamson Center Support Fund
University of Nebraska Foundation, PO Box 82555 Lincoln, NE 68501
- Oregon State University Foundation to the Bert and Emelyn Christensen Professorship Endowment in the College of Science
Oregon State University Foundation, 4238 SW Research Way, Corvallis, OR 97333